An English solicitor sitting on the European Parliament’s justice committee has spoken in support of the EU’s fourth anti-money laundering directive, the draft of which has been amended following representations from the Law Society. 

Timothy Kirkhope MEP, the rapporteur - the person with responsibility for presenting the eventual report to parliament - on the fourth directive, said: ‘It is designed to allow member states more proportionality in how they apply it. 

‘I hope the Financial Conduct Authority takes note and uses it to get rid of the more irksome requirements that the present directive places on banks and businesses.’

The Society and CCBE, which represents European bar associations and law societies, however, argue that the fourth directive’s proposal to remove the explicit mention of pooled client accounts from the list of vehicles deemed low risk for anti-money laundering purposes could require solicitors to open a separate account for each individual case, then make a separate transfer from that account and close the account afterwards.

Kirkhope, a junior Home Office minister in the Conservative government from 1995-97, was the architect of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) into miscarriages of justice.

He told the Gazette that he is ‘not amused’ by the subsequent Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998, enacted by the Labour government. The ‘prescriptive’ HRA leaves ‘gaps’ that can be filled by judicial interpretation, he said, with Article 8, the right to respect for private and family life, particularly open to abuse.

Kirkhope, who has successfully pursued careers first as a solicitor, then as a member of the UK and European parliaments, sees no conflict between the two roles. ‘My profession is not politics, it is the law,’ he said.

‘Politics is a vocation, renewable by the public every four or five years – if you’re lucky.’

Kirkhope was at the Law Society being interviewed for a Gazette profile to be published at the end of September.